Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Have you noticed the pattern that repeatedly unfolds when a big name player leaves the Sox?

#1: The Sox make a modest, but easily beatable attempt to retain him. Usually, it's a contract offer to a free agent that's about 85% of what they eventually get paid. And somehow, we as fans find out about it.

#2: The player rejects the offer, and goes somewhere else.

#3: A story comes out about how the Sox were turned off by the former player. Whether it's injury concerns, or problems in the clubhouse; somehow, we as fans find out about some malfunction that apparently tarnished the shine of the ex-Sox star.

It's how we find out about these things that attracts my attention. Fenway has more leaks in it than the Big Dig.

According to Peter Gammons, the Red Sox and Bay agreed to agree to a $60M, 4 year deal back in June of '09. That is until an MRI on Bay's knees caused concern for the Sox. The deal was reduced to 2 years, which Bay refused, and he eventually wound up with the Mets.

Now I'm not doubting Gammons, whose reputation is deservedly impeccable. I'm not criticizing the Sox for refusing to commit large sums of cash to a player with bad knees.

But this 1-2-3 routine of the Sox is quite noticeable. They are usually correct when they let players leave. Make a lowball offer, which leaks to the media. Then the player signs with the Mets or the Dodgers. Then we find out that player's deficiencies. Thanks once again to that diligent media.

Maybe we just have some amazing snoops at the Herald and the Globe and NESN and Channel 5 and the blogosphere. But how come we never find out about Bay's knees, or Nomar's malignant behavior until after the player's inked a new deal with a new team. How come that is the moment the hardboiled reporters stumble upon these stories?

The Red Sox are masters of media manipulation. And I'm not criticizing, I'm admiring. The Sox have been able to preemptively diffuse the once inevitable public backlashes that occur when favorite players leave town. It's an art, worthy of Machiavelli or Sun Tzu.

They leak these stories (which border on propaganda), and a media starving for scoops to pass on to the rabid fanbase thanks them for the snack. And you can't blame the media for being pawns in this game. What's the alternative? NOT discuss Jason Bay's questionable knees?

So Bay has bad knees, and that's why the Sox didn't sign him. When Mike Cameron bats .240, we can blame Bay's knees, and not the front office.

So in summary, I'm not denying or even questioning the truth behind Gammons' story. But just pay attention to how the Sox leak out stories to the press in order to appease the fanbase. That farce about putting on a "full court press" for Roy Halladay, comes to mind.

And while you're watching your favorite player this year, whether it's Beckett, Papelbon, Victor Martinez or Dustin Pedroia; when and if they do leave the Red Sox, you'll eventually be HAPPY to see them leave. And it's all because of the devious and ingenious schemesters on Yawkey Way.

Yahoo! Sports